Activist community

Statue honoring civil rights activist and community icon revealed at Smale Riverfront Park

CINCINNATI (WXIX) – The first female statue named in Cincinnati is now in place at Smale Riverfront Park in honor of a former civil rights activist.

The statue represents Marian A. Spencer, a community icon who died in 2019. Despite her passing, Spencer’s legacy lives on in many ways.

Many community and city officials spoke about Spencer at the dedication event on Sunday, describing her as a powerful but peaceful advocate for change.

“It’s very clear to me, clear as black and white, the impact Marian Spencer has had on the city, county, state and beyond,” said Stephanie Dumas, Hamilton County Commissioner, during the event.

Two sculptors worked together to design and create the statue. The finished piece features Spencer with two children posed next to her to represent her work with youth.

Spencer fought for desegregation, especially on Coney Island and in Cincinnati public schools. Spencer was also the first African-American woman to win a seat on Cincinnati City Council.

Her son, Edward Spencer, traveled from California to Cincinnati to attend the unveiling of the statue on Sunday.

“Really happy to be able to be present at this celebration of my mother’s life,” said Edward. “The statue is truly representative of who she was.”

Spencer has worked with many organizations, including the NAACP and the Woman’s City Club, the group that worked to make the statue a reality throughout her life.

“She believed that strength can come from conviction, strength from determination. As we move forward to address issues, especially with race relations, let Marian be our inspiration and example, ”said Alice Schneider of the Woman’s City Club.

Monday would have been Spencer’s 101st birthday.

According to those involved in the project, it was funded by donations from people and institutions in Cincinnati.

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